By now, you know that "Full House" is coming back as a Netflix spinoff. What you might not know is that it came back in the late '00s as a Russian adaptation. Aside from a couple news releases, there's almost nothing about it on the English-language internet. Here's the intro, which features many (kind of) familiar faces and a theme song to make Jesse and the Rippers proud:
According to Russian Wikipedia, the overseas version of the show was titled "The House Is Upside Down" or "Topsy-Turvy House." The main characters were widower sportscaster Andrei (aka Danny Tanner), his guitarist brother-in-law Dima (Uncle Jesse) and their comedian friend Jora (Uncle Joey), who together raise Andrei's daughters Sofia (D.J.), Pauline (Stephanie) and Masha (Michelle, played by two sisters, just like in the original). The series aired 40 episodes over two seasons in 2009.
Here's how it all came together: Alexander Rodnyansky, then CEO of Russian broadcasting company CTC Media, became familiar with "Full House" because it was his daughter's favorite show. He worked out a deal with Warner Bros. to license the series, along with other classic sitcoms such as "Suddenly Susan," "Perfect Strangers," "Step by Step" "Ugly Betty" and "The Nanny." Whereas those other adaptations were big hits, though, Russia's "Full House" didn't enjoy the same ratings.
Rodnyansky wasn't available for a full interview, aside from providing the aforementioned background, but Denis Leroy, former vice president of format licensing and production at Warner Bros. International Television Production -- who now works in France's TV industry -- recounted as much of the story to MTV News as he could recall.
The episodes followed the original versions, but had slight changes to accommodate cultural differences.
"We had [series] bibles and directions we had set up for the local producers to follow -- obviously there were local characteristics that had to be considered," Leroy says. "The American way of life didn't always match with Russia, so we'd have to rescale or adjust elements [like] the size of houses.
"The big frame, what we call the arcs, were kept. Within those arcs and story lines, certain blocks of dialogue were reworked because there were things a man wouldn't say to a woman, things you wouldn't say to a boss... But the main framework was the conflicts, the evolution of the characters throughout the season. There may be elements in the episode you don't recognize, but by the third or fourth minute, you might recognize them."
None of the original footage or sets were used.
"It was all shot from scratch," Leroy says. "Nothing was used from the initial show -- everything was totally rebuilt... It would've been odd to plug in elements from the American show, which have a [different style] of production."
Catchphrases such as "have mercy" and "you got it, dude" were usually altered as well.
"They changed it," Leroy says. "A lot of things like that was changed to really match local culture. ... Sometimes you adjust [for] the local market based on something you hear and observe.
"[T]he Russian team -- director and performers -- were perhaps more used to direct dialogue. Sometimes they overplay a bit. Not because they're bad performers, but audiences are used to a slightly overplayed dramatic approach, something where emotions and lines are just underlined. ... But it works and the audience loved it there. We just had to flow with what was efficient. ... It helps skew [toward] the local market with different connections."
Leroy says it was somewhat controversial to portray three men raising a family together.
"That was very, very unusual for Russian society. The show was perceived as really, really new ... in a country where women and mothers are still pretty much in charge of family and children... People took notice. Russian TV at the time was pretty conservative, I would say. It evolved progressively.
"[The show] was really made about the kids. It was really very children-driven, the way Russia had done it... It had good reviews and was seen. The other [adapted] comedies had more seasons."
The show only lasted for two seasons because one of its stars wanted to pursue other projects.
"One of the three lead male actors wanted to go back to do features, like movies ... it was hard to keep the performers locked into doing many seasons," Leroy explains. "In Europe and particularly Russia, performers have a mixed career -- TV, feature films, stage plays ... they're not used to doing so many seasons. Performers in the U.S. are happy to be locked into seven, eight seasons of a show that does well -- it's work.
"In other countries, they prefer more freedom, which is a risk for producers. They can't keep performers for [more than] two, three seasons. ... I think [Asia] started later ... Poland did well [for ratings]. Russia, to be honest, that was the main training ground and test for the adaptation process at the time. Aside from that, there was a reality show [we adapted] called ‘The Bachelor.'"
(Update: Alexey Miasnikov, the actor who played the Danny Tanner role, went on to do voiceover work for the Russian releases of "The Matrix," "Gladiator," "Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire," "Transformers," "The Dark Knight Rises" and "X-Men: Days Of Future Past." He also voices Brian O'Conner in the "Fast and Furious" franchise and Dr. Bruce Banner in Marvel's "Avengers" films.)